I’d never heard of M.F. Hussain before a month ago and now I don’t mind if I take it on singlehandedly to educate the world about the greatness of his paintings. One of two exciting exhibitions that I went to see in London last weekend, and like a bull in a china shop bolted past the crowds in the V&A to get my fill of ‘India’s Picasso’.
A short, yet utterly spectacular show of wondrous triptych paintings depicting typical Indian scenes. From revered Indian gods, dynastic battles of good and evil, ritualistic dance forms from Kerala, great master stone carvers to urban family Indian households, river worship and technological developments – Rolls Royce to railroads to Air India. His own words… “Man is in a mad rush to capture the world.”
Dubbed the ‘Master of Modern Indian Painting’, Maqbool Fida Hussain was one of India’s most eminent artists until his painting caused an internal uproar in his home country and he became exiled in the UK. Never to return back before his death a couple of years ago, he was in the process of painting 96 panels, the eight tryptichs he managed to paint were on show at the V&A, testimony to his lifelong achievements. As a painter of cinema hoardings for the vibrant world of Bollywood, his early career lasted long into his painting life dynamically influencing the triptych panels we can see today. He recognised this and noted his works were ‘a visual cinema’ with no words necessary. He wanted to create “a museum with no walls”.
“Using freehand drawing and vibrant colour, he depicted Indian subject matter in the style of contemporary European art movements, particularly Cubism.” Intertwining religious and symbolic imagery, such vivid, bold colours evoke movement, feeling and a depth of history not easily portrayed. My own appreciation of mural paintings and seeing his combination of metallic and lustre, wowed my senses as he brings India to life in front of your own eyes.
On to 27th July
Courtesy of Usha Mittal